Protest Literature "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing." Thomas Jefferson

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English 220 (1Y) Office: 314 Humanities Center

Literature & the Social Experience Office Phone: 226-4871

Fall 2004 Office Hours: M, W 9:30-10:30

Dr. Tynes Cowan T, Th 12:00-1:00 & by appointment
Protest Literature
"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing."

---Thomas Jefferson
OVERVIEW: As the quotation above suggests, protest is at the heart of American history, life, and culture. It should not be surprising that among the most popular and enduring characters in American literature is the rebel, the outsider, the little guy fighting against the system. But besides dramatizing dissent, literature is also used to express dissent, to reveal injustice and argue for social change. In this class, we will focus primarily on social movements that have been prominent in American history, though we will stray beyond U.S. borders occasionally. Although we may spend a great deal of time discussing subjects about which there should be unanimity (we're all against slavery, right?), each topic has contemporary manifestations that are more controversial. We will examine the ways in which modern activists address these issues, and we will debate the merits and demerits of modern protest rhetoric and tactics. It is a testament to the nation's founders that, historically, groups fighting against the status quo have returned again and again to the founding principles of the republic to argue their causes.
GOALS Students in this course will

  • develop skills of literary analysis and the ability to articulate such analyses;

  • understand a number of important social issues from a variety of perspectives;

  • make connections between life and art, theory and practice, literary study and other academic disciplines;

  • understand ways in which individual and group identities are formed in social struggles and through artistic responses or contributions to such struggles;

  • locate themselves on the spectrum of consent and dissent and gain knowledge of networks through which they may affect their own social change.


Ann Charters, editor, The Portable Sixties Reader…(60s #)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland

Joy Hakim, editor, A History of US: Sourcebook and Index (HofUS #)

James Nagel and Tom Quirk, eds, The Portable American Realism Reader…(ARR #)

Barbara Solomon, editor, The Haves and Have-Nots...(HHN #)

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Annie Wang, Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen

Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present

A composition handbook such as Andrea Lunsford's The Everyday Writer


Tests: * A Final Exam (to be taken at the scheduled time).

* Daily Reading Quizzes (I will count your best 10 quiz grades).
Papers: * 1 Course Project/Paper (1,500-1,800 words).
* 5 Short Literary Analysis Papers (500 words each). Every other week you will turn in a formal response paper based on that day's reading. Your group number indicates which days your formal responses are due. Post your response to the Digital Drop Box 30 minutes before class.
Blackboard Posts: You will post 1 informal reader response (250+ words each) per

week to the BlackBoard discussion board. These must be posted 20 minutes before class time. You do not have to post during the weeks when you have presentations or formal responses due.

Group Work: Two presentations. Your group will be assigned to one of the six issues

around which this course revolves. We spend two weeks on each

issue, and group presentations will be made on Mondays. Consider the first presentation to be informative while the second should be more analytical. In both cases, you will be teaching the class.
Participation: You should be prepared to elaborate upon of your ideas on the days

that you turn in a response. On other days, you should be ready to leap into the class discussion. No passive learning here!

Attendance is expected and required. You are allowed 4 absences for whatever

reason. Each absence after the fourth will result in a reduction of your final grade by 5 points (1/2 a letter grade), and more than 8 absences may be grounds for failure.

Although I do not doubt that many of you could earn a decent grade by turning in essays and showing up for exams, such measurements of ability are merely academic conventions used to assign quality points. You are really earning 1 unit of credit for being here and participating.
LATE WORK: Your grade for an assignment will drop ½ letter grade (5 pts on a

100-pt scale) for each calendar day that a paper is late. Post all papers to the Digital Drop Box AND bring a hard copy to class.

The final exam cannot be made up without some official notification of illness or other emergency. Daily quizzes may not be made up.

Daily Reading Quizzes……………… 20% Group Work……………….… 10%

Informal Responses (BB Posts)…....... 10% Course Paper………………… 20%

Formal Reader Responses………....... 20% Formal Responses………….. 20%

Reading Calendar

Fall 2004

Sept 1 Course introduction.

Sept 3 Zinn: from Chapter One (middle of p. 7 - top of p. 11).

Zinn: Chapter 3 (39-58).

Zinn: Chapter 23 (631-41).

“Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress”

Henry: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”

“Memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover”

Paine: “Common Sense” (HofUS 26-37).

Week Two

Sept 6 Labor Day

Sept 8 Zinn: Chapter 4 (59-75).

Zinn: Chapter 5 (77-102).

Jefferson: “Declaration of Independence” (HofUS 37-41).

Sept 10 Zinn: from Chapter 19 (524-39).

Zinn: Chapter 25 (675-82).

Seneca Falls Conv.: "Declaration of Sentiments" (HofUS 136-138).

Lazarus: “The New Colossus” (HofUS 223).

King: “I Have a Dream” (HofUS 252-256).

Black: Opinion in New York Times v. U.S. (HofUS 267-268)

Week Three THE COLOR LINE: Abolitionism and Civil Rights

Sept 13 “Resolution of the Germantown Quakers” (HofUS 20-22).

Garrison: The Liberator, vol. 1, no. 1 (HofUS 114-116).

“North Carolina Law Forbidding…” (HofUS 116-117).

Thoreau: “Civil Disobedience” (HofUS 138-142).

Douglass: “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” (HofUS 146-149).

Brown: “Last Statement to the Court” (HofUS 161-162).
Sept 15 Washington: “Address at the Atlanta Exposition” (HofUS 188-92).

Harlan: dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson (HofUS 192-96).

Dunbar: "The Lynching of Jube Benson" (ARR 524-31).
Sept 17 Chesnutt: "The Sheriff's Children" (ARR 170-85).

Chopin: "Desiree's Baby" (ARR 269-74).

Week Four

Sept 20 King: "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" (60s 24-41).

Trillin: "The March" (60s 57-63).
Sept 22 Moody: from Coming of Age in Mississippi (60s 45-51).

Welty: "Where is the Voice Coming From?" (60s 51-57).

Dylan: "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" (60s 63-65).

Randall: "Ballad of Birmingham" (60s 65-67).

X: "The Ballot or the Bullet" (60s 70-80).
Sept 24 The Sixties Reader, Part Seven Introduction (443-45).

Neal: "The Black Arts Movement" (60s 446-54).

Lee: from Think Black 1965-1967 (60s 454-56).

Giovanni: "My Poem" (60s 464-66).

Cleaver: from Soul on Ice (60s 478-83).

Week Five WOMEN'S MOVEMENTS: Suffrage and Liberation

Sept 27 The Sixties Reader, part eight introduction (491-92).

Rukeyser: "Poem" (60s 512-13).

Levertov: "The Mutes" (60s 525-26).

Wakoski: "Belly Dancer" and "Ringless" (60s 527-30).

Jones: Intro Only (60s 531-32).

Solanas: from SCUM Manifesto (60s 536-39).

Steinem: "A New Egalitarian Life Style" (60s 539-42).

Sept 29 Freeman: "The Revolt of Mother" (ARR 208-22).

Friedan: from The Feminine Mystique (60s 493-503).

Oct 1 Gilman: "The Yellow Wallpaper" (Arr 254-69).

Millett: from Sexual Politics (60s 504-12).

Week Six

Oct 4 Gilman, Herland, chapters 1-4.

Oct 6 Gilman, Herland, chapters 5-8.
Oct 8 Gilman, Herland, chapters 9-12.

Week Seven LABOR and POVERTY

Oct 11 London: "The Apostate" (HHN 285-305).

Crane: "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, chap 1-3 (HHN 219-30).
Oct 13 Crane: "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, chap 4-11 (HNN 231-60).
Oct 15 Crane: "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, chap 12-19 (HNN 261-84).
Week Eight

Oct 18 Davis: "Life in the Iron Mills" (HHN 180-218).

Oct 20 Garland: "Under the Lion's Paw" (HHN 306-321).

Norris: "A Deal in Wheat" (HHN 322-33).



Oct 25 Kipling: "The White Man's Burden" (Blackboard Link).

Orwell: "Shooting an Elephant" (Blackboard Link).

Gandhi: quotations (Blackboard Link).

Oct 27 Las Casas: “Of the Island of Hispanola” (HofUS 12-13).

Sahagun: “General History of Things…” (HofUS 13-16).

Red Jacket: “Address to the Chiefs…” (HofUS 104-105).

Monroe: “The Monroe Doctrine” (HofUS 110-112).

“Memorial of the Cherokee Nation” (HofUS 113-114).

O’Sullivan: “Editorial on Manifest Destiny” (HofUS 127-131).

Oct 29 Chief Joseph: “I Will Fight No More Forever” and

“Address in Washington” (HofUS 177-180).

Okison: “The Problem of Old Harjo” (ARR 531-537).
Week Ten

Nov 1 To Be Announced

Nov 3 To Be Announced
Nov 5 No Class---Upper-division registration


Nov 8 Howells: "Editha" (ARR 412).

Twain: "The War Prayer" (Blackboard Link).
Nov 10 Sontag: "What's Happening in America" (60s 119).

Levertov: "Life at War" + "Overheard Over S.E. Asia" (60s 124).

Bly: "The Teeth Mother Naked at Last" (60s 128).

O'Brien: "The Man I Killed" (60s 171).

Kovic: from Born on the Fourth of July (60s 176).

Komunyakaa: "You and I Are Disappearing" and

"2527th Birthday of the Buddha" (60s 184).
Nov 12 McDonald: "I Feel Like I'm Fixin'-to-Die Rag," "Talking Non-

Violence," and "Superbird" (60s 261-65).

Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five, Chapter 1 (1-22).
Week Twelve

Nov 15 Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five, Chapters 2-4 (23-86).

Nov 17 Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five, Chapters 5-7 (87-161).
Nov 19 Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five, Chapters 8-10 (162-215).
Week Thirteen EXPORTING DEMOCRACY: The Student Movement in China

Nov 22 Wilson: “War Message” and “The 14 Points” (HofUS 207-214).

Roosevelt: “The Four Freedoms” (HofUS 229-233).

Truman: “Truman Doctrine” & “Atomic-Bomb” (HofUS 237-41).

Reagan: “Speech at Moscow State University” (HofUS 268-272).
Week Fourteen

Nov 29 Wang: Lili, chapters 1-4 (1-58).

Dec 1 Wang: Lili, chapters 5-8 (59-116).
Dec 3 Wang: Lili, chapters 9-11 (117-185).
Week Fifteen

Dec 6 Wang: Lili, chapters 12-14 (186-240).

Dec 8 Wang: Lili, chapters 15-17 (241-307).
Exam Week

Dec 14 (Tuesday) 1:00-4:00

Formal Response Papers

To begin these responses, you should choose a quotation for close reading. This should be an analysis, not a summary of the text. Use the quotation as a focal point for investigating some aspect of that day's reading. Your goal is to explain the significance of the quote in relation to a larger concept or theme of the entire work. You may use this formula: Pick a topic, usually expressed in a word or two such as "death" or "love." Then, decide upon a theme, or what the author is saying about the topic--usually expressed in sentence form. Your argument will form around your conclusions concerning what the text is "about." Be assertive. Defend your interpretation and back it up with specific textual evidence.

You are encouraged, but not required, to make connections to other texts and other information (biographical, historical, etc), but beware of trying to do too much in such a short assignment. All of this will make more sense as the semester progresses. Also, check the online Blackboard for writing prompts. These papers will be used to generate class discussion, so it is essential that they be completed and posted to the Digital Drop Box 30 minutes BEFORE class time on the days they are due.
Informal Reader Responses (Blackboard Posts)

Throughout the term, post a total of 10 responses to the Discussion Board. The directions for formal reader responses can get you started, but do not feel constrained by those directions; the important thing is to share ideas, so don't worry too much about style. These responses should be at least 250 words each. Postings made after class discussions will count for ½ of a post.

Group Presentations

Use the checklists provided on Blackboard .

Course Project

I will give you guidelines around the middle of the term, but you should read the instructions from an earlier class, which I've placed on Blackboard.

Also, here is a short list of texts that work well in the final project:
Environment: Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975)

Hegemony: Leslie Marmon Silko, Storyteller (1981)

War: Michael Herr, Dispatches (1991)

Labor: Martin Sprouse, ed., Sabotage in the American Workplace: Anecdotes of

Dissatisfaction, Mischief, and Revenge (1992)

Women’s Movements: Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

AIDS/gay rights: Tony Kushner, Angels in America (1993)

Poverty: Jonathan Kozol, Amazing Grace (1996)

War: Abbie Hoffman, The Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman (2000)

Poverty: Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed (2002)

War: George Braziller, ed., Cry Out: Poets Protest the War (2003)


1. A text we have read. We'll call this the classic text/movement.
2. A text we have not read. This should be from a current/contemporary movement.
3. Textual analysis—interpretation of literary text(s) based on close reading of intrinsic material.
4. Contextualization—interpretation of literary text(s) based on application of extrinsic material.
STEP ONE: Say: "I like _______." Fill in the blank with one of the following:

  • An Issue: one of the five or one we haven't covered

such as the environment, abortion, gay rights, etc….

  • A Time Period: Revolutionary, Antebellum, Gilded Age, 1960s

or one we haven't really covered such as the Jazz Age

  • A Genre: A particular type of protest such as poetry, speeches,

satire, marches, fiction, etc….

  • A Text/Author/Protester: Among those we have studied, such as

Frederick Douglass, Bacon (of Bacon's Rebellion), C.P. Gilman

STEP TWO: Find: A contemporary expression or analogous situation to your choice in step 1.

A "real world" movement, plus an individual expression of it. (The

closer to today's date, the better. But since we haven't pushed much

past the 1960s, you might be able to use a movement from the 1980s and

1990s as "contemporary")

Examples: Current War Protesters as the current incarnation of the

antiwar movement of the 1960s. Some political rap or hip hop

as extension of the Black Arts Movement.

STEP THREE: Write: Separate "close readings" for your choices from step 1 and step 2.

These will be like your reader responses and should allow you to explore

your choices independent of one another.

STEP FOUR: Consider: What does a comparison of these two "texts" tell you? Is new light

shed on the "classic movement? Do you have a greater appreciation for

the contemporary movement? Does the contemporary movement make

specific connections to the classic—trying to claim legitimacy, but

perhaps taking protest too far? Etc….
STEP FIVE: Submit: A proposal to me. This should be the bare bones of your idea and where

you expect it to go—no more than a short paragraph.

STEP SIX: Start Drafting


Each group will be assigned extra readings, mostly from Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Each group member will take one of those readings and present it to the group. After discussing the various readings, the group will prepare a presentation for the class.

A. time period. Contextualize by reference to well-known historical markers

(for example, the decade before the civil war).

B. Offer 2 or 3 undisputed facts (such as the passage of the fugitive slave Law) and

explain their significance.

C. Your issue (such as "the color line"): What prominence does your issue have for

the people living in that time period?

A. Who are the opposing sides in the struggle? Go beyond the basic oppositions

(such as abolitionists vs. slaveholders) to explain the complexities

of the struggle.
B. What are 2 or 3 key arguments on either side? (Again, don't say something obvious

like "Abolitionists were opposed to slavery.")

C. What are the methods, tactics, and goals of the "oppressed" group? (That is, the

group NOT in control.) Pay particular attention to the cultural and

rhetorical aspects of their resistance. (In other words, do they write

poems and pamphlets? Socialize in saloons or hold benefit concerts?)

A. What is the traditional history against which Zinn is writing?
B. Keep in mind what Zinn says in chapters 1 and 23. Traditional histories are the

memories of states. The focus on individual figures as "saviors"

denies the power of popular movements. Instead, the people seem

simply to go along for a ride through history.

A. What are Zinn's methods for deconstructing that "master narrative"?

  1. How successful is he?

V . ORGANIZATION SURVEY: Do some web research and find current organizations that are

committed to social change linked to your issue. Your group should have a total of three

organizations, each with a different scope one college level, one local or regional, and one

national or international. Each group member should complete the “Organization

Survey” on Blackboard under “Assignments.”

I. Identify commonalities between/among the individual readings
A. Do the terms of the struggle change over time? Do the "Players"

change? Is there a shift in emphasis?

B. Do tactics of the oppressed group undergo dramatic changes? Likewise,

are the goals of the group pretty much the same? What is the

relationship between tactics and goals?
C. Give specific examples of the rhetoric—the form given to the argument.

D. Do some movements or time periods lend themselves more naturally to using

the revolutionary rhetoric employed by the founding fathers?

Do some groups make inappropriate use of such rhetoric?

II. Prepare a list of study questions—Central points to which we can return throughout

the two weeks that we spend on this topic.

A. Examples:

  • To what degree are famous individuals responsible for social change?

  • To what degree are the changes demanded consistent with the ideals

set forth in the country's founding documents?

  • Which particular victories by protesters have made life in 21st century

America better—and which ones have made things worse?
B. These sample questions are rather broad and could apply to any issue. Your

questions, focusing on a single issue, should be more precise.

I. You will choose an academic discipline from which you will read an article related to your

larger topic. Each member will be taking the perspective of a different discipline.

For example, your topic may be women's movements and your perspective is


II. Characterize the Perspective

A. If the perspective sees the issue in terms of 2 sides in conflict, what are the sides?

B. Does the perspective focus on a particular aspect of the topic that we have not

discussed? Or one of the many aspects we have discussed?

III. Meet as a Group and compare notes. The comparison should help each member sharpen

his/her description of that discipline's perspective.

IV. Apply these perspectives to one of Monday's readings. For example, one member might say,

"From the perspective of an economist, the story would mean…."

Note: Try to characterize the discipline without stereotyping its members.

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